Hamilton fastest in first Suzuka practice
11 October 2013 – Lewis Hamilton set the pace during first free practice for the Japanese Grand Prix on Friday morning. The Mercedes driver, who has now topped the opening session at the past four races, clocked a 1:34.178 to lead team-mate Nico Rosberg by 0.330 seconds, while Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel completed the top three.
Despite the predicted storms, pleasant conditions welcomed the drivers as the track action got underway. Following the now traditional early lull, Mark Webber was the first to make the first significant move for Red Bull, with Vettel – who is in with a chance of securing a fourth successive world title this weekend – slotting into second position.
But as the session progressed, Rosberg and later Hamilton moved to the front of the order, the 2008 World Champion making multiple improvements to secure the top spot. Vettel ultimately usurped Webber for third, although the German was caught out on one of his flying laps when Paul di Resta left the pit lane directly in front of him.
Ferrari duo Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso followed in fifth and sixth respectively, ahead of Lotus drivers Romain Grosjean and Kimi Räikkönen. Sergio Pérez ended as the fastest of the McLaren drivers in ninth, while Toro Rosso's Daniel Ricciardo improved late on to complete the top ten positions. This denied Jenson Button, and also prevented the five highest-ranked teams from finishing the session two-by-two.
There were three notable incidents throughout the opening 90 minutes, with Jules Bianchi, Pastor Maldonado and Giedo van der Garde all ending their sessions early. Bianchi and van der Garde both hit the barriers at Degner 2, while Maldonado was forced to stop his car after dramatically losing his left-rear wheel at the Spoon Curve.
Friday afternoon's second practice session at the Suzuka circuit begins at 2pm local time (GMT +9) and can be tracked via the GPUpdate.net live report feature